By Michael Oche
In protest of the Lagos State government’s ban on the operation of its affiliate union, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has said it is ready to shutdown economic activities in Lagos State today.
TUC President, Comrade Festus Osifo, who made this known to journalists in Abuja at the weekend, said the Congress has fully mobilized its affiliates unions including Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) among others to join the action.
According to Osifo, TUC has employed all the necessary tools of engagement for amicable resolution with the Lagos State government, all of which has proved abortive
He added that the RTEAN also went to court and got a judgement from the National Industrial Court which clarified that the State government has no powers to proscribe a trade union legally registered by the Federal government. Yet, Lagos State government refuses the union to operate.
He therefore said TUC will utilize rights to protest to register its grievances . He also called on the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Federal government’s body with powers to register and deregister trade unions to call Lagos State government to order.
TUC also threatened that after the protest if the State government remained adamant, its affiliates will shut down all federal establishments across Lagos.
“The National Industrial Court Lagos State division in its judgment told the State government to unlock the offices of RTEAN. The Court expressly said also that Lagos State government has no powers to proscribe a registered trade union. But the Lagos government refused to comply with the judgment.
“On the 4th of September this year, we wrote another letter to Lagos State government drawing their attention to the government judgment and the meeting we had earlier with them where they promised that the issue will be resolved, but there was no response. All other attempts to reach the State governor were to no avail.
“In fact we have even reported to the Ministry of Labour and to people in the Federal government that are from Lagos State to call the governor to order. What they are doing to RTEAN is the same thing they now doing to NURTW today. So this is fundamentally wrong.
“So it is against this backdrop that we said on the 4th of September: within two weeks, if the Lagos government remains adamant in resolving the issue, we are going to carry out a protest and after the protest and there is no resolution in sight, there is going to be a total shutdown in Lagos State. Because what the State government is doing against a legal registered trade union is not acceptable to us.
“So in order for us to carry out a successful protest in Lagos on Monday, we informed the DG of DSS, IGP and the National Security Adviser. The reason is that we want them to provide us with adequate security. And we have informed all our affiliates to proceed to Lagos next week.” Osifo said.